Wild Child: Rewilding Childhood
Over the last few months, I’ve been working with We Are Wildness (an organization dedicated to helping people reconnect with Nature) on developing a program to encourage people to take their children outside. We’ve titled it “Wild Child: Rewilding Childhood,” and I’m pretty excited about putting it out into the world. On one hand, it seems a dichotomy — a program designed to get kids outside that is…virtual? Well, yes. As much as I don’t like to acquiesce to technology, the fact is that ‘being online’ is part of life as we know it right now. So the hope is that by developing an online program, we’ll be reaching people who maybe wouldn’t normally just choose to visit the local nature center. Or the parents who remember fondly their youthful adventures outdoors, but notice their offspring looking at an iPad more often than the sky while swinging from backyard tree branches. Or the families that love getting outside, but tend to let other things take priority. And anyone else who wants ideas and support in doing things differently. The list could go on. But however we reach whoever we reach, I’m excited to be part of the movement to rewild childhood.
From the introduction to activities:
If you grew up in the 1980s or before, it’s likely you spent much of your free time during childhood running around outside, making forts, chasing butterflies or just kicking around with the neighborhood kids. You didn’t have a cell phone and the video game options were limited. Going outside was the best option. We think it still is, and according to ample research, going outside is essential for optimal cognitive and physical development. Kids learn how to adapt to change, overcome challenges, and take healthy risks. They learn courage, build autonomy and exercise creativity. They figure out what it means to be a part of a community that is bigger than what they can see on a screen and are more likely to develop a sense of responsibility to the Earth itself due to being in direct relationship with the natural world. They intimately learn about the nature that is closest to home and have the opportunity to develop a love and appreciation of protecting what they see as part of them.
“The physical exercise and emotional stretching that children enjoy in unorganized play is more varied and less time-bound than is found in organized sports. Playtime—especially unstructured, imaginative, exploratory play—is increasingly recognized as an essential component of wholesome child development.”
Maybe you’ll hike a trail, maybe you’ll run through a grassy field, maybe you’ll go to the beach. Maybe you’ll go on a wilderness vacation, but maybe, and perhaps this is even more essential than a deep wilderness experience, you and your little ones will just sit in the front yard and watch the clouds go by. The objective of this challenge is to make spending time outside part of the norm-part of what is essential for the days of the children in your care. We think you might be surprised at what you learn about the earth and yourself along the way.
Will you join the movement to rewild childhood?
For full program details and to join the challenge, visit learn.wearewildness.com.
(Join us at the virtual program launch event at 7pm CT, Thursday, Oct. 1.)